The good news, my parched pals, is that if you’re not so adventurous in the beer, wines and spirits department, you can find many of the same drinks in Hungarian bars as you’d find anywhere else.
But, if you try only one Hungarian beer, try: Dreher (Brown). It pains me as a patriot to say it, but Hungarian beer isn’t for example up to the high standards of our Czech neighbours. The brown Dreher beer is however more flavoursome and complex than most. (Update from the editors: You can now enjoy Hungarian craft beers by the bucketfuls. Beer lovers check out our Budapest craft beer tasting.)
If you try only one Hungarian white wine, try: Tokaj. French aristocrats in Versailles called this stuff ‘the King of wines, and wine of Kings’ before anyone said much about Champagne (which was still being perfected).
If you try only one Hungarian red wine, try: Bull’s Blood (Egri Bikavér). This robust red, to paraphrase Monty Python’s ‘Aussie table wines’ sketch is a good fighting wine. No kidding. It has its origins in a 16th century siege, where the inhabitants of the town of Eger smeared themselves with it, and the Turks bought the story that we Hungarians were drinking bull’s blood. They promptly split. (Try out more Hungarian grape varieties at our Budapest wine tasting session.)
If you try only one Hungarian sparkling wine, try: Hungaria Extra Dry. This Chardonnay, fermented and matured using the Méthode Traditionelle can hold its dignified head up with the best of its kind from other countries.
If you try only one Hungarian liqueur, try: Unicum. There was a soft focus, romantic film with Ralph Fiennes made about the family behind Unicum, called Sunshine. Forget it! This stuff will put hairs on your chest, even if you’re a silicon enhanced lap dancer. It’s certainly an acquired taste. A little bit Jägermeister, a little bit cough medicine. Loving it like that.